Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2017 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets? Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun "insight" into the proceedings, with our annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.
For each region, we'll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player we'd pay to watch; and something you're not going to want to see.
Without further ado.....
GUTLESS WONDER PICK TO WIN THE REGION
Is there a more gutless pick to win than taking Villanova, the reigning national champions and #1 overall seed in the entire tournament? Every major contributor for the Wildcats was at least on the roster last season as they made their run to the title, even if guys like Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall weren’t actually playing in the tournament. Jay Wright is one of the most respected coaches in the country, and his team shredded their way through their schedule to a 31-3 record with 10 top 50 KenPom wins, a Big East regular season title, and a Big East tournament title to boot. Just scribble them in headed to Glendale and figure the rest of the bracket out later.
CHEX MIX BOLD PARTY MIX PICK TO WIN THE REGION
We’ll go with the Baylor Bears, and no, not just because of their bold highlighter yellow uniforms. Ok, a little bit because of that. Fair criticism: Scott Drew’s team has not been racking up the wins all that quickly since the calendar flipped to February. They still earned a #3 seed in the region and went 11-7 against KenPom top 50 teams. Those seven losses account for all of their losses this season, and yes, there’s going to be an awful lot of top 50 teams between them and the Final Four, but they did get more wins than losses in those games. Johnathan Motley is a BEAST for Baylor, currently sitting at #3 in the KenPom Player of the Year rankings.
CRUSH YOUR MAN UPSET SPECIAL
I mean, DUH, it’s Marquette over South Carolina. It looks like Vegas is favoring the Gamecocks with a opening line of -2.5, although it has settled down to -1.5, maybe -1 in some places. MEANWHILE, KenPom gives MU a 51% chance of victory and ESPN’s BPI whackadoodle system gives Marquette a 55.3% chance of victory. In short, Vegas is giving South Carolina a slight advantage because the game is in South Carolina, but the computers actually like the Golden Eagles to win a neutral site game between the two teams.
PLAYER I’D PAY TO WATCH
Well, excluding the human fireball known as Markus Howard and Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart because I have already paid to watch them play, that means the guy to keep an eye on in this bracket is SMU’s Semi Ojeleye. He’s #10 on the KenPom POY rankings, #1 in the AAC POY rankings, and actually won the AAC’s official POY award. Ojeleye averages 19 points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game, has shooting splits of 49/43/78, and has a top 30 in the country offensive rating. Make sure you watch SMU’s first round game, because you won’t get to see them again after Providence bolts out of the First Four and knocks the #6 seeded Ponies out of the tournament.
DO NOT WANT ALERT
Dear eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus, do not let Wisconsin or Virginia win a game in this tournament, and whatever you do, do not let them win two games each. It’s bad enough that these two jars of frozen molasses posing as basketball teams are going to bore half of America to death with their first round games, but there is a possibility that they would actually meet in the Sweet 16. Go Virginia Tech, Go UNC-Wilmington, Go whoever the hell gets in their way. Please do not allow this game to poison the minds of America’s youth.